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February 21, 2014

Growth spurt: Canal center headed for updates

Canal museum pursuing $80K in updates

DELPHI — Visitors of the Wabash and Erie Canal Center will see a lot of changes to the Interpretive Museum in the coming months.

The Wabash and Erie Canal Center, 1030 N. Washington St. in Delphi, has seen tens of thousands visitors since it opened in 2004. The museum, which is about 3,500 square feet, has 12 galleries and 60 exhibits. The museum provides interactive learning opportunities while teaching visitors about the canal era of the mid-1800s.

To maintain the quality of the museum, the Wabash and Erie Canal Association — volunteers who help maintain the park — are running a fundraising campaign of $80,000 to prepare for the next 10 years.

The Canal Society of Indiana donated $10,000 and a business in Delphi has already sponsored two exhibits.

Money raised will be used to update physical conditions of the exhibits, add more interactive opportunities and create two new galleries.

Dan McCain, president of the canal association, hopes the changes are completed this year. The goal of the next phase of changes is to enhance the experience of the museum.

“It’s great when you see the looks on the kids’ faces,” McCain said. “This really is an interpretive center, not a traditional museum. We want visitors to interact.”

The creative exhibits at the museum grew from the mind of Len Mysliwiec of Lifespace Design in Fort Wayne. Mysliwiec designed the Interpretive Museum 10 years ago and has continued to advise on the outdoor exhibits and now the new plans to update the exhibits.

“Len has such a fascinating and creative mind,” McCain said. “I appreciate he had it in his mind to create this.”

One of the new exhibits called “The Canal Builders” will give a look into what life was like for canal laborers. In addition to having a laborer’s shanty with plank and straw beds, the exhibit will have an interactive fire pit that will have cooking tools and typical foods that were eaten. This will include a “what’s for dinner” puzzle where visitors can choose what they think they ate for dinner — each correct choice will be worth a point.

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